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Residents hold protests against Family Dollar stores’ plan to sell alcohol

Councilwoman Barbara Sextion Smith, D-4, Jackie Floyd of the Russell Neighborhood Association and the Rev. David Snardon, right, lead a protest outside a Family Dollar store in the Russell neighborhood. | Photo by Michael L. Jones

More than 25 people ignored the light rain on Monday evening to protest outside the Family Dollar store on the corner of 15th and Jefferson streets. The gathering was part of a citywide demonstration opposing the North Carolina-based retailers’ decision to seek more than 20 retail malt beverage licenses in Louisville, primarily for stores located in the West and South Ends of the city.

Councilwoman Barbara Sexton Smith, D-4, led the protesters in a chant of “No more liquor stores in Russell.” Sexton Smith pointed out to Insider Louisville that the 15th Street Family Dollar store shares a parking lot with a 300-bed recovery center for ex-prisoners, Community Transitional Services and the St. Peter United Church of Christ, which is using the strip mall as a temporary worship center while their historic building is undergoing construction.

She said this showed that Family Dollar’s corporate parent made the decision to start selling alcohol in certain sections of Louisville without any thought to how the change would impact these communities.

“This looks like it’s shareholders profits over family values, and I’m here to promote positive family values. I’m not against liquor sales in Jefferson County, but there is a right place and time for that. Many of the employees at Family Dollar have talked to me about this at various locations, and they are afraid of the activity that would be generated due to selling alcoholic beverages at these stores,” Sexton Smith explained.

Residents have until Aug. 2 to submit letters against the approval of Family Dollar applications to the office of Robert Kirchdorfer, the Louisville Alcohol and Beverage Control Administrator. If Kirchdorfer rules against Family Dollar, the company can file an appeal to the state ABC division.

Sexton Smith said residents in her district have gotten denials on four alcohol license applications filed in the last 18 months. She and other council members have already gathered hundreds of letters opposing the expansion of alcohol sales at Family Dollar, she said, and they will be delivered to Kirchdorfer before the deadline.

“We are not going to fight every liquor license at every type of business, but we are going to fight them at the Family Dollar store,” Sexton Smith added.

Jackie Floyd of the Russell Neighborhood Association said two other businesses have filed applications to sell alcohol in Russell since early July when Family Dollar made its request. She vowed to fight one application at a time if that is what it is going to take to limit package alcohol sales in the area.

Floyd said her group would be open to liquor licenses for sit-down restaurants or some other business that meets the needs of the community.

Shakyaa, 7, shows her support at the protest against alcohol sales at a Family Dollar store in Russell. | Photo by Michael L. Jones

Discount retailers like Family Dollar have thrived over the last decade by expanding into low income neighborhoods that have trouble attracting big box stores like Walmart or Target. The Rev. David Snardon of Joshua Tabernacle Baptist Church said the real problem is the financial institutions provide money for businesses that don’t add to the community but ignore entrepreneurs who are trying to make positive contributions.

“My questions is, ‘Who keeps funding these businesses that want to sell alcohol when we can’t even get loans to fix up our own homes?’ It seems that somebody believes the only thing that sells down here is liquor, T-shirts and cigarettes, and we need some diversity. If they are going to be bringing economic development into the Russell neighborhood, they need to diversify what that looks like,” he said.

The Family Dollar at 451 Oak St. had a smaller protest than the one on 15th Street. Shawn Williams, executive director of the Old Louisville Neighborhood Council, was one of about 10 people standing outside the store holding “No Beer Sold Here” signs.

The Old Louisville Family Dollar is next to a Rite Aid store that already sales alcohol and across the street from a liquor store called Bottled.

“There are plenty of places on Oak Street already. We don’t need another place to sell liquor. We need a grocery store more than we need another liquor store. It’s that simple,” Williams commented.

Old Louisville resident Greg Moore stood outside a Family Dollar in his neighborhood to protest liquor sales. | Photo by Michael L. Jones

While Insider was talking to Williams, Metro Council President David James, D-6, showed up with a loudspeaker. In addition to the Family Dollar on Oak Street, James’ district includes stores at 611 Winkler Ave. and 1234 W. Broadway. James had just come from the protest on Winkler, which he said included about six people.

“This is outstanding, because it means these people care about their communities. Residents want development, but they aren’t going to settle for just anything,” the councilman said.

Metro Councilman David James, D-6, carried a loudspeaker around his district to lead his constituents in chants opposing alcohol sales at Family Dollar stores. | Photo by Michael L. Jones

With that, James turned around and led his constituents in a chant that went, “Family Dollar, we are not a liquor desert/Family Dollar, no beer/Family Dollar, clean up your store.”

Across the street, Tony Samara, the manager of Bottled, cheered the protesters on. Samara said it is hard enough for an independent liquor store to survive without competition from yet another corporate outlet.

“I’m barely making my rent as it is. I don’t like what’s going on one bit,” Samara said.

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